Three Strikes in the Attack On Christian Music
By Mike Shaw
When examining the attacks on Christian music, there are three major tactics used. There are objections based on musical taste, on the assumption that certain music is worldly, and on decietful diatribes that truly must be read to be believed.
Strike #1: "I don't like that noise!"
"These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'" Isaiah 29:13, quoted by The Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 15:8
I love the traditional Hymns of our faith. However, had the Hymns of today been sung in the 1600s, they would have quickly been denounced as heretical. There was a time when only Gregorian chants of a certain chord structure were considered the only Holy music possible. When people began writing church music with different chords, the music was called "of the devil". What would these people have said about Oh, how I love Jesus, or Wherever he leads I'll go? Had the attitudes of today's Christian music attackers prevailed, our hymnals would be empty of all the hymns we treasure.
Often attackers will quote studies that claim that music can have an effect on humans. They overstate the obvious. Music is an incredible gift from God with great power of expression. Who hasn't soared in the proclamations of the Hallelujah Chorus or rested in the soulful arms of It is well with my soul? Who isn't affected by the militaristic beat of Onward, Christian Soldiers, and the proclaiming key of the last verse of Amazing Grace?
Where these studies (most of questionable sources and methods) go wrong is that they imply a subconscious and irresistable mind control over the listener. Attackers reason that since the world writes songs using these insidious techniques, and since much of Christian music today contains these 'evil sounds', we are unknowingly unleashing the subliminal songs of satan on millions of unsuspencting listeners. Now, I sincerely wish this were the case, not because we'd be releasing 'satan sounds' but because then all we would have to do is write songs with 'Christian sounds' and zing!--instant evangelism! There would be no more revivals, no more missionaries, no more altar calls, no more fundamentalist web pages, and no more lyrics. Instead, we'd have busy recording studios pumping out disc upon disc of 'christian sounds'. People would mysteriously show up for Church. They would be saved in their cars without even knowing it. Forget preachers: "listen to todays sermon, played by organist John Smith....".
I think I've made the point. There are no good sounds and bad sounds. Music is a pallete of sounds that contains millions of colors. Red is often associated with satan and devil worship. But how could you paint a picture of the crucifiction without it? In the same way, lyrics telling of the crucifiction can be painted acoustically by a minor chord on a guitar with distortion. To say that a Christian songwriter can only use certain sounds is like saying that a Christian painter can only use certain colors.
"You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men." - 1 Corinthians 6:12
So if an attacker claims that the sound of Christian music is evil, he is not speaking from the authority of the Bible in any way. In reality, he is merely echoing the same sentiment that all people have had for hundreds of years as music changes: "I don't like it!". Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for the Kingdom of God, his tastes do not a barometer of Godliness make. Indeed, had his reasoning held a couple of hundred years ago, we would not have the beautiful hymns we have today.
Strike #2: The Worldly Sound Fallacy
"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31
The second type of attack is the "Christian music is worldly--we should abstain from worldly things" assertion.
There is not a single verse in the Bible outlining worldly types of music. Instead, attackers must use a logical fallacy to prove that music they do not like is worldly. In doing so, however, they create a formula that could easily be used to attack anything. The attacker will claim that you can tell no difference between worldly music and Christian music. Christian musicians wear the same clothes, play the same sounds, and play in the same style as worldly musicians.
I saw two men the other day. Each was dressed in a suit and tie. Each had a briefcase in his right hand. Each drove a nice car. In their office, each had a nice desk and a bookcase with hundreds of books on it. Pictures were on the desk of the man's wife and family. Each one studied books every day. One man preaches the gospel, the other defends pornographers.
Wait! Aren't we supposed to be seperate from the world?!? How can a preacher be indistinguishable from an attorney defending pornography? uh...maybe he should change his hairstyle....yeah...we could have a required hairstyle for preachers...and a special suit...no...forget the suit....a special tie...yeah! And no leather shoes because all attorneys wear leather shoes. We've got to make our preachers look different so that they will be 'seperate from the world'.
Of course this is preposterous. But if an attacker's claims that 'seperate from the world' includes appearance are true, then we must accept it. But it goes futher....
Two women are beautiful singers. On two different days they go to a recording studio and record themselves singing two nearly indistinguishable songs, accompanied by a piano. One records a hymn about Jesus and his love for us, the other records a song entitled "our love will last forever" that will be played to a sex scene in a movie. The movie becomes wildly popular and millions buy the CD.
Well, we're in trouble now! We certainly can't keep playing that hymn. The world has produced that love song and now the world controlls its musical sound. Do we want our sacred hymns reminding people of fornication? From now on, all hymns can only be accompanied by an organ. Come to think of it.....let's ban pianos...because there are so many worldly lustful piano songs out there.
Even more preposterous. But what about style?
The well dressed, clean cut man comes up to the podium holding The Book in his hand. He presents the message to the followers, many of whom are there for the first time. He enumerates his painstakingly researched points, and summarizes various chapters in The Book. At the end, he holds up the book, saying "the answers are all in this book. For just 12.95 you can have my guide to Personal Power! Unlock that giant within you!!"
Oh no! All preachers can no longer preach. It is far too similar to a business meeting or a business promotion. No raising of your voice--to much like a worldy politician. No podiums or microphones. No church buildings, because were designed and built using worldly architects and contractors.
Again, I don't write like this to be sarcastic. These are simply the same lines of thinking that are propigated by fundamentalist attacks.
In essence this whole attack is just like the first one. The attackers don't like 'rock music'. In their minds it symbolizes worldliness. But just because they do not like the appearance, sound, or style of Christian music doesn't mean that it is of the world.
The real truth here is that a group of musicians playing an electric guitar, or a set of drums, or singing about Jesus Christ in "common language" stand out as seperate more than anything. Today's people are so used to hearing songs about sex, drinking, making money, and heaps upon heaps of other false gods. When a person gets up and sings songs along the lines of "Forget all that....it won't get you anywhere...Jesus is the only one who can give you a real life....he's the only one who can save you......you've got to stop your sinning and follow him....." Brothers and Sisters that stands out. That is not 'preaching what they want to hear'. That is not compromise.
Playing a musically and verbally intense song about what it means to be a Christian hammers it home and makes it real to the audience. And just because someone doesn't find the music to their taste doesn't mean the message is 'watered down'. On the contrary, when Christian youth hear a song about repentence that uses powerful chords and lyrics, it paints a real picture in thier mind and amplifies musically what the Bible says. That is what Paul says when he says "Be all things to all people". You must present the Word of God in a way that makes it more real than a book that they've "sort of read." Maybe, just maybe, when they're off being tempted to get drunk or engage in some premarital sexual activity, the Word of God will echo in their head: "don't do it....don't do it......" Maybe those words echo from a good pastors sermons, but maybe they were memorized in a powerful Christian song.
The bottom line is that we are seperate from the world in our attitudes and in the message we bring. Our behavior is different in that we recognize and repent from sin. But most of all, we stand out when we share the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus, the only son of God.
Strike #3: "I had my fingers crossed...."
"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience." - Eph 5:6
"He who has a deceitful heart finds no good, And he who has a perverse tongue falls into evil.", "A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who speaks in lies will not escape." "Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; Yes strife and reproach will cease."Proverbs 17:20,19:5,22:10
The third type of attack is basically made up of deciet and wickedness. The attacker will misquote, twist, take out of context, bait and switch, and essentially do anything he can to spin a tale that is not only made with techniques of the wicked, but in the end has little to do with scripture. In some instances, it has gotten so bad that you can literally not trust a word the author says about anything. Things like misquoting artists, printing lyrics of songs incorrectly and claiming that first person songs describing the evils satan are sung for satan. Personal attacks with absolutely no root in scripture are gleefully and colorfully slapped on the page. In general they twist and they spin like the great deciever himself.
Not all do this, but a few do. Others provide links to the sites that do. I will not question the faith of somone who claims Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but I ask you: are the fruits of these people the fruit of a Christian?
The worst part about this is that instantly everything in their page--their tracts, publications, beliefs and doctrines are now all suspect, and even what is good is spoiled. Which leads me to my final point. Don't believe outright anything you read on the web. All are colored by the individual human beliefs of the author. Instead study your Bible daily. Constantly test and challenge the beliefs you hold in your heart and mind with the Word of God. Those you find true will become bedrocks of faith. Those that are false can be replaced by wisdom far greater that that on anyone's web page.
There is no scriptural evidence against today's Christian music. The only scriptural attacks are routed to scriptural evidence through the filters of personal beliefs and man-made traditions. In so doing attackers teach as commandments the doctrines of men. Before we attack Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we should be absolutely sure that our foothold is God's Word, and not our own prejudices.
Now, I sincerely wish this were the case, not because we'd be releasing 'satan sounds' but because then all we would have to do is write songs with 'Christian sounds' and zing!--instant evangelism!...